I went to the Vittorio De Sica festival at Film Forum. Being cowardly, I didn’t choose to see Umberto D. again, a heart wrenching movie about old age in postwar Italy. It even includes a dog. Instead, I saw Max Opel’s The Earrings of Madame D…starring Danelle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica. What a load of elegant nonsense. The three actors swan around for what seems like hours in gorgeous costumes and great jewelry. The late Roger Ebert lauded the film for its technical mastery. Mr. Ebert was a white male and his eyes seemed as teary as John Boehner’s as he described the lost and found and lost love motif. I’m a white female and reacted differently. I was angry with myself for having fallen in my youth for the myth that all a woman needs are looks and guile. Danelle Darrieux has outlived her princess heroine who dies young. (After all, what’s a woman worth after the age of thirty?) Ms. Darrieux is 98. She’s neck and neck with another Parisian inhabitant, 99 year old Olivia de Havilland, one of the few actresses who could play goodness well i.e. Melanie in Gone with the Wind.
The New York Academy of Medicine sponsored Andrea Wulf’s talk about her newest book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. The naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), introduced many theories about nature, ecology and weather which have been incorporated into our modern sensibility. Wulf honors her fellow German by recounting his adventurous life, describing his accomplishments and name dropping. Among von Humboldt’s disciples were Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh and John Muir. Wulf is an engaging speaker and attracted a large crowd in the Academy of Medicine’s library.
I chose to go to MOMA’s blockbuster Picasso Sculpture on a rainy Friday, thinking the threat of Hurricane Joaquin would keep New Yorkers indoors. I hadn’t reckoned on the tourists, but it still wasn’t too crowded. MOMA allows photos. People were taking selfies with the sculpture. I chose to spare you. I’m throwing in the permanent helicopter.